Minimalist fashion: the end

Well friends, we've arrived. For the last two months I've been exploring the topic of minimal + ethical fashion, and it's been amazing. I've gotten so many comments, both here and on Instagram, and several of you have mentioned that you've purchased from the brands and shops I've shared about. That truly makes me misty-eyed!! The idea that by sharing something I'm passionate about, someone else might become passionate, too, or just choose to make one small choice for a more ethical option, is incredible. Because all those small choices DO add up and it WILL change the world.

For this last post, I wanted to answer a few questions I've gotten, as well as share my actual current wishlist from the shops I shared in my last post. I know there were a ton of places listed, and many people asked for a highlight list they could maybe start from. So if that's what you're looking for, scroll down!

First, some frequently asked questions.

  1. What about gifts? When I receive a gift of clothing, or when someone gifts Xavier or Matt clothes, I graciously accept it and write a sincere thank-you note. that's it. Because I am grateful. I'm grateful they put thought into a gift for me. I'm grateful they spent time picking out something they thought I would love. It is never my intent to be legalistic about my minimal/ethical goal. Whether you keep the item forever and ever is another matter entirely - your home is YOUR domain, and you should feel freedom to let go of items you don't want to keep and do that freely, without guilt. Whether that's clothes or tchotchkes, I don't think our houses should be cluttered with things we don't love simply because we feel obligated to keep them. But, like I said, that's an entirely different matter and one I won't get into here :)
  2. Why fashion? There are so many other more important issues. I don't have a cut-and-dry answer for this one because yes, there are SO many issues to get fired up about in our world. Clean water. Orphan care. Food scarcity. Racial injustice. Animal welfare. The list goes on and on. All I know is that the Lord has captured MY heart on THIS subject. Of course, I'm passionate about other things, too. We support orphan care with our monthly tithe, along with an evangelical missionary outreach, our local Catholic church and a non-profit in India who is working to end the cycle of poverty for disabled children and their families. There are one thousand more charities and organizations I wish we could support. But, we all have our roles to play, and God has really convicted me on the topic of ethical fashion. I can't find the source now, but I read somewhere that 1 in 6 workers worldwide are employed in the garment industry. That is a huge section of the humans on this planet, so by changing what is considered "acceptable" in garment manufacturing, there is the potential to positively impact millions and millions of people. That's huge!
  3. If I buy my clothes cheaply, I have more money to donate to more worthy causes. This, at base level, is also true. But I think this comes down to a difference in ideology and how you view the world. A few years ago, I would have said the same thing. Why spent $30 on a tshirt when I can spend $5 and donate $25 to Food for the Poor? Thanks to my work with The Archibald Project, I've come to understand that efforts at prevention are a far more sustainable approach than simple alleviation - whether that's alleviating poverty, adoption versus family preservation, so on and so forth. Of course, alleviating suffering for the poor in the world is vital - of course. But if we're looking towards long-term solutions for the future, prevention is key. When thinking about ethically made garments, you have to take ten steps backward up the supply chain. By purchasing the $30 ethically made tshirt, the person who made it is paid a living wage, meaning they can provide for their family. No need for a program like Food for the Poor to provide their food. No need for World Vision to sponsor their child's education. Of course, I'm majorly simplifying this. But I think it's important to note that we DO have the capability to break the cycle of poverty rather than spend the next 100 years responding to it. To me, buying ethically is to say to the person on the other end of my garment, "I see you. You have dignity. You have worth. And it's worth it to me to pay more for that dignity and worth to be upheld." Too deep of thoughts to ponder when looking at tshirts online? Maybe, maybe not. Important thoughts, regardless.

If you have more questions, send them my way! I love having open conversations about this topic and would be so glad to discuss it more beyond this series!

And now, my ethical wishlist:

 

  • Effortless gray tunic from The Flourish Market - looks so great for pregnancy + postpartum!
  • Classic striped tee from Krochet Kids with a lovely, drapey shape (postpartum winner!)
  • Cozy fleece pullover from Nordstrom (made in USA) - looks awesome for chilly winter days!
  • This loungey gray maxi from The Flourish Market will be awesome for a postpartum summer.
  • Marled gray crewneck sweatshirt from Everlane, a classic layering piece.
  • I've been looking for a raglan tee everywhere, and this one from Homage Classics looks perfect!
  • This isn't exactly monochromatic, but I've been eyeing this gorgeous floral maxi from The Flourish Market. It would be so pretty for spring maternity photos!
  • A pretty blush top with a super flattering peplum shape, from Elegantees.
  • Summery striped tee from Everlane - I'm such a sucker for stripes!
  • Comfy looking sweatshirt skirt from Garment Collective. A fall/winter staple!
  • Classic black skinnies from Nordstrom (made in USA). These have been on my list forever.
  • You can't go wrong with a basic black sweater, and this one is made responsibly in Kenya for Slumlove Sweater Co.

You guys, thanks so much for sticking with me on this series. I'm so grateful!! It's been so fun and I'm excited to keep sharing more on this topic in the future! xo!

PS, if you missed any of the posts in the series, I've linked them all for you below!

A noonday giveaway!

Hi friends! Happy Thursday! I'm so excited to share this post today because free stuff is my favorite, amen?!

My sweet new friend Katie, who is a Noonday Ambassador, offered to host a giveaway in conjunction with yesterday's post about ethical fashion. If you checked out the master list of responsible brands, you would have seen Noonday Collection listed under the jewelry category. If you're unfamiliar, Noonday Collection is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. You can read more specifics about how Noonday works to help create a flourishing world here

To date, Noonday Collection has employed 4,047 artisans in some of the world's most vulnerable communities (which has empowered them to provide for their nearly 20,000 collective family members- it has a trickle down effect!). In addition, by people like you and me simply shopping Noonday Collection, 1,621 adoptive families have received funds to support their adoption. How awesome!

Three ways to join in the good work Noonday Collection is doing: shophostjoin. Need some new accessories for yourself or good gifts to give? Think of Noonday! Even more, create a marketplace in your own home (or local coffee shop or downtown happy hour spot) for your friends and family to shop fair trade and support artisans around the world! Want to take it one step further? Become an ambassador and encourage social change in your community by encouraging women around you to use their purchases for good and help to create a flourishing world! 

Katie is offering a $25 giftcard to Noonday, so pop on over to my Instagram account to enter! You have from now until Monday to be entered to win!

In addition, Katie is offering free shipping for anyone that places an order while the giveaway is live (NOW through Monday!) - saving ou $6.95! Get a jump on that Christmas shopping or take the first step to buying yourself some ethical accessories :) Just go ahead and place your order as usual, and Katie will send you a $6.95 refund via PayPal!

As if that isn't generous ENOUGH, Katie is ALSO offering a $20 gift card to everyone who books a trunk show! By creating marketplaces in our homes, we are giving artisans platforms to continue their work and maintain their business! Noonday doesn't sell in box stores because we love the integrity and community that is developed through story telling and truly sharing the heart of Noonday. I hosted a trunk show last fall (at 40 weeks pregnant - HA HA) and it was awesome. Gathering my best gal pals in my home to eat, sip wine, try on gorgeous jewelry and chat about ethical fashion?! So great!

Okay friends, happy hosting, happy shopping, happy giveaway entering! I'll be tagging the winner over on Instagram on Monday! XO!

PS - you can also follow along with Katie via her Instagram account, as well as her blog. Thanks, Katie, for blessing my sweet readers with your generosity!

 

minimalist fashion: shopping resource list

If you've made it this far in the minimalist fashion series, I'm so grateful! I hope you've at least been spurred to give your clothing a second thought. By now, I've gone over my reasons for going minimal + ethical, what's actually in my wardrobe, staying minimal + ethical for kids' clothes and lots more. But I think today's post is what most people have been waiting for - where do you actually shop for responsibly made clothing?

The thing I hear most is the lack of ethical options when it comes to buying clothing. I think the general idea is that every ethical clothing company is super expensive, or only sells super out-there clothes that most mainstream consumers don't wear. But I've found this to be so far from true. There are a ton of ethical clothing brands that sell clothes I would LOVE to wear - and keep in my mind that my style is very basic, very neutral, very mom-friendly. I've listed all the brands I've found below - some of them ARE sort of "out there", but most of them carry clothes I would realistically wear. Some of these brands have their sourcing statements listed on their websites; others I emailed or contacted directly to ask about their manufacturing. I feel good listing all of them here. I'm sure many of them are not new to you, but maybe some of them will be and you'll find a shop you love that you'd never heard of before!

I hope this is helpful, and if there are other shops I'm missing, please let me know in the comments! xo!

ETHICAL CLOTHING SHOPS BY CATEGORY

minimalist fashion: a few truths

Starting next week, I'm going to be diving into the ethical side of this series on minimalist fashion: my reasons for making the switch to ethically produced garments, some great sources for ethical shopping, how to be ethical with kids' clothes, etc.

But first, I wanted to shed light on some truths about the fashion industry, and define some of these terms that get thrown around like "fair trade" and "ethically produced" and "sustainably made." Similar to the buzzwords in the food industry ("organic", "all-natural", etc.) they can be confusing if you're unfamiliar.

To start out, a few truths about the fashion industry in today's world.

There are now 52 "buying seasons" per year. Whereas there used to be two buying seasons back in the day: spring/summer and fall/winter, then four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), now each week of the year represents a new "buying season" for brands and retailers. This is why you feel off trend just three weeks after popping into the mall - this is exactly how these brands and retailers WANT you to feel. Studies show that women now wear an item just SEVEN TIMES before tossing it, and consider an item "old" after just a few wears. This is crazy!!

Clothing is made to fall apart. Did you ever read Little House on the Prairie books? I was always amazed at the way the Ingalls girls would carefully craft a garment out of fabric by hand, then when they needed a new dress, they would "turn out" their old dress by ripping out the stitches and making it into something new. The reality is that that kind of quality in our garments is hard to come by these days. We accept that our clothes are going to fall apart, fray, get those annoying teeeeeny little holes where they snag on the edge of our jeans right below the belly button. And we shrug it of because, oh well, tshirts are only $4 at H&M. They're cheap enough that we don't expect or need them to last longer than one season. In fact, clothes are DESIGNED to fall apart after a certain number of washes, because it requires you to buy more. The term for this is "planned obsolescence", which is when garments wear out or otherwise lose their shape, forcing us to buy replacements. Part of the blame for this is on the creators of such clothing, but a large part of the blame falls to us, the consumers, because since clothes are inexpensive, we keep our expectations low.

Americans spend thousands of dollars per year on clothing. Those $5 Target tees and $3 H&M leggings add up. Add up to $1,700 dollars, which is what the average American spent on clothing in 2010. One of the biggest arguments to buying ethically made is that it's expensive. And it's true! I would guess that the average price of an ethically produced garment is around $60. I am completely speculating here. So with $1,700 to spend over the course of a year, you could only buy 28 new items. I would guess that most people buy FAR more than 28 items in the course of a year. You might be thinking "just 28 pieces all YEAR? I buy 28 pieces per MONTH!" The thing with buying ethical, though, is that those pieces are going to last. You might only buy 20 pieces all year. But they're going to retain their quality, so you can buy ANOTHER 20 next year, if you want. And again the next year. It's ending this buy-and-toss mentality that we have grown so accustomed to.

Beading and intricate detail often indicate child labor. I was shocked to read in this article about this fact, but it makes sense. Machines that sew beads and intricate details like sequins onto clothing are expensive, so instead much of that work is done in people's homes, where they enlist the help of their children and are not paid well for their effort. It makes the $10 sequin shrug a lot less appealing when you take ten steps backward up the supply chain and know the dark side that's likely behind all those glitzy beads.

American women today own four times as much clothing as they did in 1980. I can't even imagine how much bigger our wardrobes are than the women who lived in the 40s and 50s. And yet, we look to those women as style icons, as women who were always dressed to the nines and very well-groomed. 

A GLOSSARY OF FASHION TERMS

These are some terms you might come across as you look for ethically made items. 

Fast fashion: emphasizes optimizing certain aspects of the supply chain so catwalk trends can be designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow mainstream consumers to buy current clothing styles at rock-bottom prices

Ethically made: a garment that is made in a way that the design, sourcing and manufacturing maximizes benefits to people and prioritizes human dignity (fair wage, safe working conditions) and minimizes the impact on the environment.

Sustainably produced: “[to meet] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Fair-trade: trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries. If something is certified "fair trade" it means due diligence has been done to ensure the supply chain and every step of the manufacturing process from raw material to finished garment is in line with these practices.

Recycled fibers: some ethical clothing companies use recycled fibers, which means material that is cast-off from other factories, or previous garments have been taken apart and used to provide the material. 

WRAP: Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production. This is an independent agency that, according to their website, is "dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education." Companies that use factories that are WRAP certified are generally good companies to buy from because it means there is oversight on these factories to ensure safe working conditions for the employees.

FLA: Fair Labor Association. According to their website, the FLA is "a collaborative effort of socially responsible companies, colleges and universities, and civil society organizations, FLA creates lasting solutions to abusive labor practices by offering tools and resources to companies, delivering training to factory workers and management, conducting due diligence through independent assessments, and advocating for greater accountability and transparency from companies, manufacturers, factories and others involved in global supply chains."

Organic cotton: cotton that is grown from non-genetically modified plants, that is to be grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. (*A note about cotton: a TON of cotton used in the garment industry comes from Uzbekistan, which is notorious for using slave labor and child labor to pick the cotton that is used. To avoid garments that are made from Uzbek cotton, do your research. Google the brand you're buying from to see if they use Uzbek cotton. This list is a good place to start.)

 

A note about "corporate responsibility" or "social responsibility" statements

Many big brands nowadays have a page on their website mentioning their "corporate responsibility" statement or something similar. These statements usually include vague language about how the brand complies with all laws where their clothes are made. However, these statements are usually vague and filled with flowery language to make you FEEL like their clothes are being made in an ethical way; most often, they are not. If a company is truly producing garments in an ethical way, they will be upfront about it. They will say where the item is made (if the item's description says simply "import", that's a bad sign) and they will state whether their factories are WRAP-certified, etc. Don't be fooled by vague "social responsibility" statements that are all fluff!

Okay, whew. Doozy of a blog post. I'm excited next week to dive into WHY I made the shift from fast fashion to ethical produced, and the things that convicted my heart to pursue this with very little exception. I'm excited! Hope you're still hanging with me on this series, and in case you need to catch up, here are all the previous posts below. xo!